Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is set to hold a joint meeting and carry out a structural inspection survey of Dreams Mall in Bhandup to decide on the future course of action on this property.
On Friday evening, a massive fire (level 4) broke out in the mall. The incident was reported at around 7.56pm on Friday and was extinguished by the Mumbai Fire Brigade (MFB) at 4.56am on Saturday morning after a nine-hour firefighting operation. This is the second fire reported at Dreams Mall since 2021. Last year, on March 26, a major fire broke out at Sunrise Hospital on the fourth floor of Dreams Mall, killing 11 people.
“According to our preliminary findings, the fire started on the ground floor and then spread to other parts of the building. Conduits and electrical cables were lying around the building due to which the flames intensified and spread to the third and fourth floors on Friday,” said Fire Chief (CFO) Hemant Parab.
Parab said last year the fire also started on the first floor and then spread to upper floors inside the building.
“The entire building was engulfed in heavy smoke as the mall was closed for a long time. As a result, firefighting operations became difficult for us. We have not yet determined the reason. of the fire. However, an investigation will follow,” Parab said.
Since the fire on March 26, the mall has been closed and electricity and water supplies inside the building have also been cut off. Mumbai fire officials said there was no one inside the mall, which is why no casualties were reported.
“This is the second major fire in this building in just one year. It was only because the mall was closed that serious loss of life was prevented. The latest fire started in a separate section of the building and according to our preliminary findings, the fire may have originated from a shock circuit,” said Ajitkumar Ambi, deputy municipal commissioner of Ward S, where the center is located. commercial.
“The owners haven’t paid property tax, water tax for many years now. They also did not carry out a structural audit. We will bring these matters to decide the fate of this building,” Ambi said.
Meanwhile, on Saturday, BMC officials said they would call for a joint meeting with building owners as well as other BMC departments like MFB, Building Proposal and Mumbai Police.
Senior BMC officials said Friday’s fire originated in a separate part of the mall that was unaffected in the March 2021 blaze. of the building is now in a dilapidated state.
The operation of the mall is overseen by an administrator appointed by the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), which is a corporate authority constituted to hear disputes. Deepak Thakre was appointed as the new administrator of Dreams Mall in February 2022 following the release of former NCLT administrator Rahul Shahastrabuddhe.
“I was appointed recently in February and I have not yet fully taken over because I also need time to go through the documents. I am visiting the site tomorrow and only after that I will be able to do comment on that,” Thakre said.
When HT contacted former administrator, Rahul Shahastrabuddhe, he said, “My release letter from NCLT is already public and I handed in my charges on February 19th, that’s why I no longer have permission to talk about this issue.”
After the 2021 fire, BMC Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal had appointed an inquiry committee to investigate the incident. The report blamed both the mall and the hospital administration for the fire and also pointed out that fire safety mechanisms, including sprinklers and extinguishers, were not operational. The BMC panel had also offered to file a criminal complaint against a private agency for providing a false fire audit report to the hospital.
Meanwhile, shop owner and trades association member Shrikanth Swaminathan said it is “surprising” that a fire could break out inside a building that has no electrical connection.
“There are over 1,060 stores inside the mall and all of them have been closed for a year now. It is surprising that there has been another fire of such magnitude,” Swaminathan said.
He added that the mall started in 2009 and was built by HDIL infrastructure. Until 2015, it was the responsibility of the builder to pay the property taxes to the company.
“Shop owners have been paying regular property bills since 2015 and the amount outstanding is what the builder missed. Several lawsuits were also filed against the builder, following which the NCLT appointed an administrator to take care of the mall,” he said.